Family planning contracts for abortion providers rejected

Jan. 12 – CONCORD – For the third time, the Republican-led Executive Council on Wednesday denied $1 million in family planning contracts for three providers who also run abortion clinics in New Hampshire.

As in the past, Councilors David Wheeler, R-Milford, Joseph Kenney, R-Wakefield, Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester and Janet Stevens, R-Rye, opposed the awarding of contracts to Equality Health Center in Concord , Lovering Health Center in Greenland and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Councilor Cinde Warmington, D-Concord, was the lone supporter, although Gov. Chris Sununu also backed the contracts and despite continued rejection warned he could bring them back again in the coming months.

“I might put it on the agenda every week, who knows?” Sununu said half-jokingly after the vote. “If there is any additional information to provide, then yes, absolutely we will present it.”

Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said completed audits confirmed that these programs had not mixed money for other health services with their abortion offers.

“They are in full compliance with the law,” Shibinette said. And just before the vote, she pleaded with councilors to change their minds.

“Is there anything I can provide you or anything I can tell you to change that vote from no to yes?” Whatever ? Shibinette asked.

None of the advisers answered him.

“Maybe it’s a good sign” that no adviser wants more information, Sununu told Shibinette who shook her head.

The governor signed the state budget trailer bill that not only banned abortion after 24 weeks, but also placed restrictions on how family planning money could be spent by abortion providers.

Wheeler: Still not convinced the money is separate

Wheeler said he remains convinced that contracts with such vendors are not allowed under the budget bill.

“They don’t convince me that abortion services aren’t directly or indirectly funded with this money,” he said.

Warmington said the call for GOP advisers to audit these programs rings hollow.

“It was a ruse from the start. They never intended to vote for these contracts,” she said.

The three providers provided services such as contraception, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted diseases to approximately 12,000 residents.

Since the Executive Council first voted to fund reproductive health providers last September, hundreds of Granite Staters have spoken out, said Kayla Montgomery, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood.

“Councillors Kenney, Stevens, Gatsas and Wheeler have now had two opportunities to right their wrong but refuse to put their personal politics aside to do what is right for their constituents,” she said. “This is yet another vote to dismantle the state’s family planning program and it is irresponsible and will cause irreparable harm to our care system. New Hampshire deserves better.”

Leaders of the other two providers said that without the family planning subsidies, they will have to increase copayments and other fees charged to clients.

Leaders of New Hampshire Right to Life and Cornerstone Action, a socially conservative group, praised the council for rejecting the contracts.

NHRTL President Jason Hennessey said the state has a significant number of health care providers in the state who can provide the same services.

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